Sugar vs. Acne

Acne won again :-( but not before I learned about the benefits of reducing my sugar intake.


I had heard many times that sugar is the culprit of bad skin—it can cause inflammation and increased oil production from high insulin levels in the bloodstream. But I didn’t think that I could completely give up sugar. I was that person who drank 'coffee' (mainly frappuccinos) for the sugar and ate the frosting off cupcakes. Fast forward to today, at my breaking point with acne. I had tried EVERYTHING from laser treatments to Accutane, Zinc supplements, tea tree oil, wearing no makeup, and countless beauty products. Nothing worked long-term.


And if I still needed convincing, I read that the American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 25g of sugar a day (men 36g). When I looked at the energy bars, dried fruit and breakfast foods in the pantry, I was BLOWN AWAY at how much sugar was added to everything—basically the daily recommended amount or more. And these weren’t even foods that I would consider ‘sugary.’ I was likely having over 60g a day without even realizing it or having any dessert.


So here was my new eating plan:

  • No alcohol

  • No caffeine

  • No refined sugar (sweets, chocolate, any food with added sugar)

  • Whole wheat grains only (no white bread or carbs)

  • Added lemon juice or cucumbers to water


Overall, I mostly stuck to it and did my best to choose the ‘least evil option.’ Here is what happened:

  • I stopped craving sugar after a couple weeks. Days 10-14 were the most difficult and ‘cranky’ for me, but after that I became much less moody. Did you know it can take a month or two for cravings to go away?

  • I found foods that I liked just as much as my 'go-tos' and even found my new favorite pizza!

  • I had more energy throughout the day, especially in the morning, and stopped needing caffeine.

  • I felt healthier overall and eventually began craving healthier foods.

  • It was easier than I thought to find substitutions (e.g., corn crust pizza, whole wheat almost anything, dark chocolate bars).


Unfortunately, my skin did NOT get any better on my new diet as I hoped. I guess on the positive side it also didn’t get any worse. Apparently you can only do so much to work against genetics (sigh). In the end, I am glad I limited my sugar intake because I felt healthier and was pleased with the energy and waistline.


If you want to try to eat less sugar, I hope you find some of my favorite food substitutions and long-term habits helpful—and enjoy discovering your own!:

  • Evolve chocolate bars for caffeine or energy boosts

  • Vicolo pizza: seriously the best ever!

  • Whole wheat waffles (with bananas and peanut or cashew butter)

  • No more breakfast bars

  • Plain yogurt with honey, fruit and chia seeds


Danielle Turner eating Vicolo pizza
Vicolo pizza for the win!

If you have any 'non-sugary' food suggestions or substitutions that hit the spot, definitely comment below!